Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense. New Jersey does not take drinking and driving lightly. The laws are strict and the courts are aggressive. There are programs in place for people who have made their first mistake and speaking with an attorney is in your best interest. Experienced attorneys at Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C. are here to help.
If you get pulled over for DWI in New Jersey, as with any moving violation, be cooperative and compliant with the police officer. Provide your license, registration, and insurance card. You want to answer the officer’s questions in a very concise way. You don’t want to offer any additional information. You have an obligation to comply with the directions of the officer.
When you get pulled over, they may indicate that there is an odor of alcohol, or you may make an admission that you’ve had something to drink. If that’s so, the officer may pull you out of the vehicle and ask you to do some field sobriety tests. Most tests will examine if you can listen to instructions while performing physical functions. If you have any physical limitation, taking medication for a cold or any other ailment, it is important that you indicate that to the officer at the time you step out of the car, before you take the field sobriety test. Everything you do on the roadside is recorded by audio or video. The same is true in the police station. It’s helpful to know that the statements you and the officer make could help or hinder the defense of your DWI charge.
If you are not successful in completing the psycho-physical field sobriety test to the officer’s satisfaction, you will be transported to the police station in order to administer an Alcotest. Some people refer to it as the Breathalyzer. It’s a similar device. In the state of New Jersey, you must comply with the taking of the Alcotest. The officer must observe you for 20 minutes prior to administering the test, but you do have an obligation to provide two good breath samples in order for them to get an accurate blood alcohol reading. If you do not comply, the officer may write you a motor vehicle violation for refusal in addition to the driving while intoxicated citation.
The state of New Jersey has, what they call, a per se violation in the New Jersey driving while intoxicated law. Essentially, any blood-alcohol reading over 0.08 would be a per se violation of the law. In New Jersey, a blood-alcohol reading between 0.08 and 0.10 is what they call a first tier DWI.
If you have been convicted of your first DWI, penalties for a first tier offense are a 90-day loss of license, 12-hour participation and evaluation at the intoxicated driver resource center, and various fines and penalties. The first tier DWI imposes a New Jersey motor vehicle surcharge of $1,000 per year for the next three years.
A blood-alcohol reading more than 0.10, would subject you to a seven-month to one-year loss of license, participation in the intoxicated driver resource center, and the same motor vehicle surcharge. If your reading is higher than 0.15, you would automatically receive the interlock ignition device installed on your vehicle. The device will start the car if there is no alcohol in your system. If your reading is between a 0.10 and a 0.15, it is discretionary whether the court will impose the installation of the interlock device.
People who have been convicted of a second DWI in New Jersey face a harsher penalty than they did on the first offense. Penalties include a mandatory two-year loss of license, 48-hour participation in the intoxicated driver resource center, a DWI surcharge, and possible jail time.
A third DWI offense is very serious. The penalty for a third offense is a felony conviction, a minimum mandatory six months in jail up to a maximum of two years, a 10-year loss of license, along with serious fines. The restoration of your license is in the hands of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In all cases, you have a full range of defenses. Depending on the circumstances and deviation from police procedures, you may be able to fight the charge. You will need a skilled attorney that knows New Jersey DWI laws and proper police procedures. Whether this is your first or third DWI, speak with an attorney at Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C. in order to receive the best outcome to your legal matter.